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Celebrating black female writers (21 October)

Join Xarra Books this Saturday, 21 October for a day dedicated to celebrating young black female writers. Lorraine Sithole will chair the discussion.

Launch: Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang (19 October)

In her much anticipated memoir, Sisonke Msimang writes about her exile childhood in Zambia and Kenya, young adulthood and college years in North America, and returning to South Africa in the euphoric 1990s.

She reflects candidly on her discontent and disappointment with present-day South Africa but also on her experiences of family, romance, and motherhood, with the novelist’s talent for character and pathos. Militant young comrades dance off the pages of the 1970s Lusaka she invokes, and the heady and naive days of just-democratic South Africa in the 1990s are as vividly painted. Her memoir is at heart a chronicle of a coming-of-age, and while well-known South African political figures appear in these pages, it is an intimate story, a testament to family bonds and sisterhood.

Sisonke Msimang is one of the most assured and celebrated voices commenting on the South African present – often humorously; sometimes deeply movingly – and this book launches her to an even broader audience.

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Celebrating black female writers (21 October)

Join Xarra Books this Saturday, 21 October for a day dedicated to celebrating young black female writers. Lorraine Sithole will chair the discussion.

Launch - Churchill & Smuts: The Friendship by Richard Steyn (13 October)

The remarkable, and often touching, friendship between Winston Churchill and Jan Smuts is a rich study in contrasts.

In youth they occupied very different worlds: Churchill, the rambunctious and thrusting young aristocrat; Smuts, the aesthetic, philosophical Cape farm boy who would go on to Cambridge. Brought together first as enemies in the Anglo-Boer War, and later as allies in the First World War, the men forged a friendship which spanned the first half of the twentieth century and endured until Smuts’s death in 1950.

Richard Steyn, author of Jan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness, examines this close friendship through two world wars and the intervening years, drawing on a maze of archival and secondary sources including letters, telegrams and the voluminous books written about both men.

This is a fascinating account of two remarkable men in war and peace: one the leader of the Empire, the other the leader of a small fractious member of that Empire who nevertheless rose to global prominence.

Richard Steyn, a graduate of Stellenbosch University, practised as a lawyer before switching to journalism. He edited the Natal Witness in Pietermaritzburg from 1975-90, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1985/86, and editor in chief of The Star from 1990-95. He served as Standard Bank’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications from 1996-2001, before returning to writing, book reviewing and publishing.

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Book Launch: A hat, a kayak and dreams of Dar by Terry Bell

A hat, a kayak and dreams of DarAdventurer Don Pinnock talks misadventure with author Terry Bell. Join us for the Cape Town launch of this hilarious memoir about an ill-fated kayaking trip.

In December 1965, in a smoke-filled hotel room in Morocco, South African journalist Terry Bell accepted a challenge: to paddle a kayak from London to Tangier.

At the time, Terry and his wife Barbara were living as political exiles in London. By August 1967, they agreed it was time to get back to Africa. But they decided to up the ante.

Their plan: paddle 11 000 kilometres from England to Dar es Salaam in a 5-metre glass fibre kayak.

“A terrific, uproarious story about the pluckiest, most ham-fisted, naïve, fun-loving and articulate couple ever to set off in a kayak.” – John Platter

“You will paddle across waters high and low, cruise French canals, scrabble around the back streets of the Mediterranean world, hitchhike and travel in improbable vehicles across miles of desert before reaching the destination …” – Sholto Cross

The book includes a section on culinary kayaking – the recipes that Barbara cooked along the way.

About the author: A journalist and labour commentator, Terry Bell is author of several books, including Unfinished Business: South Africa, Apartheid and Truth. He co-authored Fordsburg Fighter: the journey of an MK volunteer (ISBN 9780994674425) with Amin Cajee in 2016.

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Book Bites: 8 October 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

The Word is MurderThe Word is Murder
Anthony Horowitz, Century
Just when one thought that Sherlock Holmes (the one Benedict Cumberbatch embraced as his character in the TV series) was the most arrogant detective ever to grace popular culture, Horowitz introduces us to himself and Daniel Hawthorne – both insufferable men. Horowitz writes himself as a character in his own book, where he is called on by Hawthorne to help in a murder case. The murder to be solved is that of Diana Cowper, a wealthy woman who goes to a funeral parlour to plan her burial just hours before she is strangled. Hawthorne is brought in as the police need someone with his intelligence to solve the case. Hawthorne brings Horowitz in to write the book. It’s watery and self-indulgent, with Horowitz name-dropping celebrities like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. The murder story, in the end, is irrelevant. – Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

The New GirlThe New Girl: A Trans Girl Tells It Like It Is
Rhyannon Styles, Headline
This bold autobiography relates the tremendous challenges that the writer undergoes in order to embrace life as a woman. She spares no details and is candid in this honest exposé of life behind the scenes in the world of theatre and the performing arts, a place where freedom of expression and individuality is the norm. The New Girl grabs one’s attention and provides a fascinating glimpse into both the inner and outer world of a transgender person. – Penny Swisa

House of SpiesHouse of Spies
Daniel Silva, HarperCollins
Gabriel Allon, the Israeli spy, is back for his 17th book. Co-ordinated terrorist attacks in London’s West End have left hundreds dead. The attacks have all the markings of Saladin, the ISIS mastermind. Clues to the case take Allon and his team to the south of France where they must infiltrate the enemy. A complex thriller brimming with details. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

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